The Texas House Republican Caucus is using its financial muscle to defend liberal lawmakers opposed by grassroots conservatives and the governor.
On Monday, the Texas House GOP tweeted its support for pro-abortion State Rep. Sarah Davis (R–West University Place) as well as State Rep. Wayne Faircloth (R–Galveston), two incumbents with anti-taxpayer voting records during their time in Austin. Both Davis and Faircloth have earned failing grades on the Fiscal Responsibility Index with Davis performing worse than two Texas Democrats.
Both are facing conservative challengers in the Republican Primary. Businessman Mayes Middleton is squaring off against Faircloth while Davis is opposed by conservative attorney Susanna Dokupil. Both challengers are gaining grassroots support and working to retire the incumbents from the Texas Legislature in the upcoming primary election on March 6th.
Both challengers also received a substantial boost earlier this year when Gov. Greg Abbott endorsed them.
Faircloth has baselessly accused Abbott of buying and selling gubernatorial appointments for campaign donations. It is likely those allegations—and Faircloth’s decision to side with House Speaker Joe Straus and thwart the governor’s conservative agenda during the 2017 legislative session—that encouraged Abbott to get involved.
“In the next legislative session, we have an opportunity to continue to pass reforms that make Texas even better,” said Abbott, in a video announcing the endorsement. “To do this, we need leaders who will work with me to advance a conservative agenda that will benefit every Texan in our great state. That is why I am endorsing Mayes Middleton for state representative.”
Abbott also endorsed Dokupil in her campaign against Davis back in November and has been using his large campaign war chest to help contrast the two—spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV ads confronting Davis for her pro-abortion and fiscally irresponsible record.
But despite Abbott’s endorsements against the two incumbents, the House Republican Caucus, which is chaired by State Rep. Tan Parker (R–Flower Mound) and for whom State Rep. Dan Huberty (R–Kingwood) serves as PAC treasurer, took to Twitter to support the liberal lawmakers.
“Sarah Davis has served Texas taxpayers as a member of the budget writing committee. We look forward to voters sending her back to serve the people of Texas,” read the first tweet.
That prompted a sharp response from conservative State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park).
Davis’ endorsement is especially shocking because it not only openly defies Abbott and conservative organizations across the state, but it also defies reality. Not one Republican member of the Texas House has publicly backed Davis for re-election.
Likewise, no member has publicly backed Faircloth, yet the caucus tweeted, ”Wayne Faircloth can always be counted on to fight for traditional conservative values. We look forward to the voters sending him back to serve the people of Texas.”
That statement also drew a sharp rebuke from State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford).
No he can't be counted on! As a member of the Texas House Republican Caucus I reject this statement. Wayne and his liberal record have to go! #txlege
— Jonathan Stickland (@RepStickland) February 19, 2018
Stickland had even harsher words for Parker when asked for comment by Texas Scorecard.
“I think it’s dumb for Tan Parker to thumb his nose at our grassroots supporters and our governor, both of whom have decided that Sarah Davis and Wayne Faircloth need to be removed from the Texas Legislature,” said Stickland. “I’ve reached out to Chairman Parker and asked that he rescind these remarks that he’s offered without consent from the caucus.”
Neither Huberty, Parker, nor the House Republican Caucus responded to requests for comment.
Regardless of anyone’s endorsement, voters will have the final say in both races during the March 6th Republican Primary election.